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ELDER MUSIC: Dogs

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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We had Cats last week, so of course we have to have dogs,

Scragger

That's Scragger (or Sid, depending on who you ask), mascot for the Footscray (aka Western Bulldogs) Football Club. They won the flag for the first time in a hell of a long time (Yaaaaay, Whoopee!).

Australians from the real football states will know what I'm talking about (and where my allegiances lie). Americans can glean a little understanding from the analogy of the Chicago Cubs winning the pennant. Those who aren't interested in sport (Hi Ronni) can just ignore this bit.

One of Elvis's early big hits was Hound Dog, but his wasn't the first recording of the song. That honor went to Willie May Thornton, better known as BIG MAMA THORNTON.

Big Mama Thornton

The song was written by the prolific, and excellent, songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was only the second or third of their songs that made the charts.

♫ Mama Thornton - Hound Dog


BOB DYLAN recorded a couple of rather quirky albums in 1970.

Bob Dylan

There was the poorly regarded (by critics, but I liked it) "Self Portrait". This was quickly followed by the much better received "New Morning". For some reason this one has somewhat fallen out of favor over the years. I don't know why, I think it's terrific (and it's Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite of Bob's).

From that one comes the very un-Bob-like If Dogs Run Free.

♫ Bob Dylan - If Dogs Run Free


As with Big Mama, RUFUS THOMAS had a bit of a hit only to see someone else, in this case The Rolling Stones, take it to the top of the charts.

Rufus Thomas

Rufus was a disk jockey, singer, songwriter and many more things besides. He wrote Walking the Dog and of course, was the first to record it.

♫ Rufus Thomas - Walking the Dog


Although not their first hit, Bird Dog was very early in the EVERLY BROTHERS' canon.

Everly Brothers

At the time, pretty much everything they released made the charts, often going to the top. This is no exception. I had no idea at the time what a Bird Dog was (apart from one that retrieves birds). I've just googled the term and found that it's American slang that didn't reach Oz at the time (or since).

♫ Everly Brothers - Bird Dog


RONNIE SELF performed one of the greatest of early rock & roll songs with Bop-A-Lena.

Ronnie Self

From the same session that gave us that song we have his dog song. This isn't as frantic (as they used to say back then) as the other song, but it fits the bill today. Ain't I'm a Dog.

♫ Ronnie Self - Ain't I'm a Dog


This is a variation on the Sherlock Holmes' story about the dog that didn't bark in the night. We have a song by HOWARD TATE, rather than a story.

Howard Tate

It's the same principle, of course and Howard wonders: How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark. I could suggest that it's a very well behaved bulldog, but I think Howard thinks otherwise.

♫ Howard Tate - How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark


JESSE WINCHESTER's first album was a masterpiece.

Jesse Winchester

Most of his other albums weren't far behind either. All I can say is go out and check them all, particularly that first one. From that we have Black Dog.

♫ Jesse Winchester - Black Dog


NOEL COWARD is here to perform his best known song.

Noel Coward

Noel claimed that he wrote the song without the aid of pen, pencil, paper or piano while he was driving between Hanoi and Saigon. Actually, he was passenging, not driving, and he'd sing it to his driver so he wouldn't forget it before he could write it down.

The song is, and I know you're ahead of me, Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

♫ Noel Coward with Ray Noble & His Orchestra - Mad Dogs and Englishmen


The previous song was the inspiration for The Mad Dogs And Englishmen Review, a rock package and tour overseen by LEON RUSSELL and headlining Joe Cocker back in 1970.

Leon Russell

Leon's contribution is a song about that tour. It's called The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen. From all reports, mad dogs and Englishmen was an apt description of what transpired.

♫ Leon Russell - The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen


PAUL SIMON manages to come up with the most enigmatic song title today.

Paul Simon

That's not too unusual; he rather liked doing that sort of thing, particularly early in his career. He also liked to parade his erudition but I won't fault him for that as I've been known to get a bit up myself in these columns.

Anyway, here is Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War.

♫ Paul Simon - Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War



INTERESTING STUFF – 29 April 2017

AGEING TO THE BEAT OF THEIR OWN DRUM

From one to 100. Let me quote Aeon page:

”An extraordinarily simple premise deftly executed, this video arranges a diverse group of 100 people in ascending order from age one to 100. With a snare drum to mark the progression, the resulting short film, People in Order: Age, is imbued with humour and humanity.

“In the words of the filmmakers, the project is ‘like a list of government statistics where the citizens […] have broken out from behind the figures on the page. The people on the screen stop us from seeing them as numbers. Even in single-second bursts there are worlds of personality stretching out in front of us.’”

Thank reader Tom Delmore for this. More information on the Vimeo page.

TRUMP'S ONE-PAGE TAX PLAN

It was just one page with no explanations (see it here). This is how AP broke down some details:

TrumpTaxPlanGraphicAxios

Nobody knows what the “plan” means except one obvious point - that billions in taxpayer money will flow to rich people like President Trump. On Friday, Paul Krugman had this to say in his New York Times column:

”So why would the White House release such an embarrassing document? Why would the Treasury Department go along with this clown show?

“Unfortunately, we know the answer. Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child, bored by details and easily frustrated when things don’t go his way; being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad.”

If you're keeping score, here is some more of the opposition commentary: Axios. Reich.

THE BEST SQUARE SQUARE IN NEW YORK CITY

Australian Matt Parker is a math obsessive and comedian and in this video he goes to extremes to measure such places as Times Square, Washington Square, etc. to see if they are as actually square as publized by their names.

Parker is funny and so is his obsession. This may be a bit too New York-centric for many readers but I had a good laugh and if you do, thank Peter Tibbles (another Aussie) who is in charge of TGB's music Sundays for sending it.

NEW MEDICARE CARDS DUE IN 2018

As anyone old enough to have a Medicare card in the U.S. knows, our Social Security number is right there in the middle of the card, not something that does a lot to curb identity theft.

Finally, in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new cards with different kinds of numbers:

”The new cards will begin being shipped out in April 2018, [and will reach] approximately 60 million beneficiaries by April 2019.”

Security experts have been warning us for years not to carry our Medicare cards in our wallets which can be an inconvenience. It will not be too long now before that warning is unnecessary. You can read more here.

A FABULOUS NEW WILLIE NELSON ALBUM

Today is Willie Nelson's 84th birthday and it must be to celebrate that event, don't you think, that he has released an album titled “God's Problem Child” this week. And look at this, there are three fantastic songs that are all about growing old.

Here is one called It Gets Easier. (If the video does not play, you can listen to the entire album at NPR.)

Thirty-odd years ago, I produced an interview with Willie Nelson for The Barbara Walters Specials at his then-home in the Hill Country near Austin, Texas. I had many weeks to do the research and what I discovered - that others who followed Willie's work confirmed - is that if you could string together all the songs he has written in their proper order (that's the hard part) you would have a close chronology of his life. No need to write a biography; just listen to lyrics and know what he has been going through at those times.

So it makes sense, at age 84, that he is writing and singing about growing old. Here is another track, called Still Not Dead. (As above, if the video doesn't play, you can listen to the entire album at NPR.)

I was alerted to this new Willie album a couple days ago by my good internet friend, Erin Read, who is director of strategic planning at Creating Results where she spends her days advising corporations how to not insult old people they market to.

The third song about being old is called, Old Timer and Willie is as wonderful as he has always been on the rest of the 13 songs too.

There is a track-by-track guide to the album at Rolling Stone.

ENGLAND'S FIRST EVER COAL-FREE ENERGY PRODUCTION DAY

At a time when the new administration in Washington, D.C. is rolling back environmental protection regulations, this is a bittersweet milestone: On 21 April, Great Britain recorded its first ever coal-free day of energy production.

”The UK has had shorter coal-free periods in 2016, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in the power mix,” reported The Guardian. "The longest continuous period until now had been 19 hours – first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday.

“A National Grid spokesman said the record low was a sign of things to come, with coal-free days becoming increasingly common as the polluting fuel is phased out.”

Here's the graph:

GreatBritainEnergyProduction

POLAND'S FOREST OF CROOKED TREES

This short video offers three explanations (guesses is more realistic) for the trees with unnaturally crooked trunks in a Polish forest. Pay special attention to the third possibility for a small giggle today:

Read more at The Times.

A CROW BEFRIENDS A KITTEN

This is a really old video that I recall watching years ago. According to Youtube it was shot in 1999 and posted to their pages in 2007. Whatever its provenance, it's fascinating look at cross-species friendship. I loved seeing it again and thank reader Nana for that.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Are Old People (and Everyone Else) Sleeping All Wrong?


Edouard_Vuillard_-_In_Bed_-_Google_Art_Project

ITEM 1: Everyone knows that insomnia is a common condition of growing old; it just comes with age, like wrinkles.

ITEM 2: We also know that the proper and natural way to get a good night's sleep is to bed down in a dark, dedicated room sometime in the evening either alone or with a spouse, sleep for seven or eight hours straight and wake refreshed in the morning.

Well, not so fast. Item 1 is definitely wrong. Statistics for insomnia are about the same among all age groups. And there is growing evidence that Item 2 has been the “norm” for only the past 200 years or so, and much to our detriment according to a new book.

AtDaysCloseBack in 2012, I told you about the interesting thesis of British historian Roger Ekirch. Until the invention and widespread use of artificial light in the 19th century, he reported, people in Europe had generally slept in two shifts – first sleep and second sleep.

From Ekirch's book, At Day's Close – Night in Times Past,

”...fragments in several languages...give clues to the essential features of this puzzling pattern of repose.

“Both phases of sleep lasted roughly the same length of time, with individuals waking sometime after midnight before returning to rest...Men and women referred to both intervals as if the prospect of awakening in the middle of the night was common knowledge that required no elaboration...”

“After midnight, pre-industrial households usually began to stir. Many of those who left their beds merely needed to urinate...Some persons, however, after arising, took the opportunity to smoke tobacco, check the time, or tend a fire.”

More evidence for the second sleep idea has emerged since Ekirch's book was published in 2005.

When I first read about this phenomenon five or six years ago, it seemed to explain my difficulty with sleeping: regularly waking after three or four hours and unable to return to sleep for an hour or two or even three sometimes.

It's not a nightly occurrence but happens more often than not. Now and then I try to find ways to sleep through the night but mostly I just live with it. Now I may embrace it. Read on.

However sleeplessness manifests itself from individual to individual, a good night's sleep is widely difficult to achieve and the billions of dollars a year spent by millions of people on physicians, medications, nostrums, self-help books, products and clinics in an effort to get a full night of restful sleep don't help anyone much.

WildNightsNow, in a new book titled Wild Nights – How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World – Benjamin Reiss, while acknowledging that Ekirch's thesis that electric lights reordered our sense of time and, perhaps, evolutionary rhythms, another at least equal contributor to widespread disordered sleep is the industrial revolution.

Before then, for many centuries in many countries, sleep was a social event involving adults and children together and even visitors:

”For starters, the notion of sleeping in a private bedroom, out of view of strangers or even most other family members, turns out to have shallow roots,” writes Reiss...

“Historian Sasha Handley reveals that even the idea of a 'bedroom,' denoting a room primarily associated with sleep, is rather new.

“Throughout the eighteenth century in England, most homes had rooms with overlapping functions depending on the time of day; and well into the nineteenth century, it was common for travelers to share beds with strangers.”

Sleeping-beauty-painting

Reiss writes that along with gas and then electric lighting, the arrival of the railroad with speeds no one in history had experienced before contributed to loss of sleep, he attributes it mostly to the migration of workers from farm to factory.

When employers needed to count on employees arriving on schedule to keep production humming, they even used wake-up bells to rouse the people in the factory towns:

”Time itself became a chief product of the industrial age,” Reiss continues, “and when clock time did not correspond to natural rhythms, artificial lighting could enforce it.

“Despite, or perhaps because of, the factory system's role in creating havoc with sleep schedules, the idea of a standard model for healthful sleep – eight unbroken hours – took hold.”

The change was helped along in no small manner by do-gooders who didn't like adults, children and strangers of both sexes mixing it up all together under one blanket.

Benjamin Reiss explains up front that his goal with his book was to unravel the reasons for our current sleep-obsessed society with ”a blend of literature, the social and medical history of sleep, cross-cultural analysis, and some brief forays into science...”

It is a fascinating read revealing that our current definition of “normal” sleep is far from being so, and our relentless pursuit of that norm may even be a, if not the, culprit in our widespread cultural insomnia.

The story is much more complex than I have space to explain, but below are a few more quotations that may help you, as I have, think about reordering your beliefs about sleep.

And who has more time than retired people who no longer need to waken to an alarm to try out different ways of finding satisfying sleep.

“...those who argue that there is no single way to sleep naturally or correctly give us license to be more forgiving of our own sleep patterns, to stop thinking that there is a 'right' way that we're failing to achieve.”
“...it's arguable that when sleep began to be shut off from social life, walled away behind closed doors, it became less pleasurable, more pressurized, more fragile, and more subject to the vagaries of individual psychology.”
“Other scientific research gives the lie to the notion that humans are wired to sleep the same way every night...

And one more thing:

“...ducks sleep in a row, with the ones on the edges keeping an outer eye open.”

Did you know that? I didn't know that.

Sleepinginpark1


Staying Sane in This Dark Night of the American Soul

It is no secret around here that I think John Oliver is the most brilliant of the bumper crop of smart, left-wing comedians we have now who help keep non-Trumpers a bit sane during this dark night of the American soul we are living through.

In keeping with that state of mind, I am taking a mental health break today and instead of a regular blog post that would require actual thought, I have for you Oliver's video essay broadcast last Sunday night on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight.

In it, he takes on Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner – something I've been itching to do but knowing I cannot possibly match Oliver's intelligence, wit and talent, I have not made the attempt. So thank god he has now done it for all of us and I don't have to.

Oliver is good every week but this one surpasses anything he has done so far this season. There are so many great, true and fall-down funny moments that to choose among them is impossible. But I do like this giggle a lot, referring to Ivanka: “The apple doesn't fall far from the orange.”

And by the way – here's a question for you: How come there are no right-wing comedians as funny as the ones who lean left?

Anyway, here is John Oliver from last Sunday. Enjoy, and I'll see you back here on Friday.


One Republican Plot to Destroy Social Security

If President Donald Trump follows through on his stated plans for this week leading up to his hundredth day in office, it will be a head-spinning time for those of us trying to keep up.

So let's take a look today at one of the nefarious ideas the Republicans are plotting for Social Security. We all know better now, don't we, than to trust anything Trump says on any given day. Just in case, here is a reminder of one promise from the campaign:

He said that about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security over and over and over again at hundreds of rallies.

Then, about two weeks ago, AP reported that the Trump administration is mulling over tax cuts including a House Republican plan, proposed by “a GOP lobbyist with close ties to the Trump administration,” to cut the 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax.

”This approach would give a worker earning $60,000 a year an additional $3,720 in take-home pay, a possible win that lawmakers could highlight back in their districts even though it would involve changing the funding mechanism for Social Security...”

Although the idea is short on details, it appears that the current Social Security funding via the payroll tax would be replaced with something like a VAT (value added tax) on imports that would be held in the general fund instead of in the Social Security trust fund.

Nancy Altman, the Social Security expert who works tirelessly to protect the program, calls the proposal a Trojan horse, as she explained at Huffington Post:

“[This proposal] appears to be a gift in the form of middle-class tax relief, but would, if enacted, lead to the destruction of working Americans' fundamental economic security...”

”Not only would the Trump proposal starve Social Security of dedicated revenue, it would ultimately destroy it. Social Security is not a government handout. It is wage insurance that the American people earn, as part of their compensation, and, indeed, pay for with deductions from their pay.

Let's back up a little. Here is a photo of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Social Security bill into law on 14 Ausut 1935.

764px-Signing_Of_The_Social_Security_Act

This is what he said during the signing ceremony:

"We can never insure one-hundred percent of the population against one-hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life. But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against…poverty-ridden old age.”

And so it does. Without Social Security, 22 million people it currently insures would be living in poverty.

The dedicated Social Security Trust Fund did not exist when FDR signed the original legislation so in 1939, he signed additional legislation creating it, he said,

“…to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions…With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”

I guess Mr. Roosevelt didn't count on the damn politicians of the Trump regime.

[For an easily understandable explanation of how the Social Security Trust Fund works, see my post from December 2004.]

When this subject came up at a meeting I attended last week where all attendees were elders who receive a Social Security benefit, one said that it doesn't matter if the idea succeeds because any changes to the program will not affect current recipients.

I hear that way too often but I'm pretty sure that like me, most of you are ready to fight to maintain this program for your children and grandchildren and beyond – fewer and fewer of whom make enough money these days to save for their retirement.

So keep your eye on all Republican budget proposals to see what they're doing with the Social Security trust fund. That way you'll know what you're talking about when the time comes to call your representative and senators in Washington about this.

Here's is a last word on the subject of scrapping the payroll tax (for today) from the estimable reporter, Michael Hiltzig of the Los Angeles Times:

”Already, conservatives and budget hawks repeat as a mantra that the cost of Social Security is 'unsustainable.' That’s their claim even though the program runs a surplus today and ensuring its fiscal stability for the future would require a modest increase in the tax rate or removal of the cap on taxable wages ($127,200 this year).

“Scrapping the payroll tax would make it easier for Congress to cut Social Security benefits under the guise of saving the government money. And that’s just another way to funnel more money to the rich, at the expense of the working class. And who needs that, other than people who already have enough?”


ELDER MUSIC: Cats

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

Cat

Continuing with the animal series of columns, today it's the turn of the engine that powers the internet – cats. Sorry, there are no cute cat videos today, just songs about them. Actually, checking what we have, there aren't many about the actual animal. Oh well.

I'll start with BOB CROSBY, brother of Bing (he probably got that all his life).

Bob Crosby

Bob was a band leader of a group known as The Bob Cats (ha ha, a little play on words there, Bob). I mention that because his song is all about it - March of the Bob Cats.

♫ Bob Crosby - March Of The Bob Cats


The LOVIN' SPOONFUL's song Nashville Cats is about the studio musicians in that city.

Lovin' Spoonful

The story is that the Spoonful were headlining a concert there and afterwards went to a bar where there was a pick-up band of those musicians. John Sebastian said they played music that the Spoonful could only dream about. However, he wrote a good song about it that became a hit for them.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Nashville Cats


If ever there was a cool cat among the British musicians of the sixties who made a splash on popular music, it would be GEORGIE FAME.

Georgie Fame

Georgie's music owed more to jazz than rock & roll and blues. He was especially influenced by Mose Allison, and it shows in his music. Georgie performs Cool Cat Blues.

♫ Georgie Fame - Cool Cat Blues


GENE VINCENT was a serious contender in the early days of rock & roll until he was badly injured in a car accident in London that killed fellow performer Eddie Cochrane.

Gene Vincent

He didn't ever fully recover from that and an earlier motorcycle accident. However, in his short career he wrote and performed many songs that defined rock & roll and are still sung to this day. One of those is Wild Cat.

♫ Gene Vincent - Wild Cat


MUDDY WATERS has featured in several of these animal columns, and today is no exception.

Muddy Waters

He brings some serious blues into what is otherwise a rather frivolous column. In the mid-seventies, Muddy's career seemed to be going nowhere. He left Chess records and Johnny Winter produced a new album (as well as playing on it) for a new record company.

The album, "Hard Again", was a critical and popular success and it revived Muddy's career. From that album comes Crosseyed Cat.

♫ Muddy Waters - Crosseyed Cat


Like Gene Vincent, CARL PERKINS was another early serious contender whose career sputtered out due to a serious car accident. In Carl's case it was while he and his band were headed for New York.

Carl Perkins

However, Carl went on to have quite a successful career as a country musician. From his early days when he was recording at Sun Records next to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and others, Carl suggests that you Put Your Cat Clothes On.

♫ Carl Perkins - Put Your Cat Clothes On


TOM JONES started out as a soul/R & B/blues singer and then morphed into a middle of the road, Las Vegas type performer.

Tom Jones

In recent times, he seems to have discovered his roots again and is making really interesting music. However, that's neither here nor there as he gives us one of his early hits, written by Burt Bacharach, What's New Pussycat.

♫ Tom Jones - What's New Pussycat


We hope that the ROLLING STONES only sang about under age groupies.

Rolling Stones

Musicians and writers often write about what they know but I won't delve further into that sordid business. I'll just play Stray Cat Blues, from their finest album "Beggars Banquet".

♫ Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues


If ever there was a swinging cat it was LOUIS JORDAN.

Louis Jordan

Louis started as a bandleader in the big band era as well as a songwriter and musical arranger. He then led small rhythm and blues combos which were really rock & roll bands in everything but name. His song today is from the early period, 1939 to be exact, At The Swing Cats Ball.

♫ Louis Jordan - At The Swing Cats Ball


BENNY GOODMAN was involved with some short films, cartoons, made by Walt Disney during the war.

Benny Goodman

These were fragments of longer works that weren't completed as most of his staff were drafted. They decided to release them (the films, not the staff) as a series of shorts, and set them to music.

This is one where Benny was featured, and along for the ride is PEGGY LEE.

Peggy Lee

All The Cats Join In is the name of the song and the feature.

♫ Benny Goodman - All The Cats Join In



INTERESTING STUFF – 22 April 2017

HOW SMALL WE ARE IN THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE

Of course, you have intuited how small we are on the scale of the universe. But this TED Talk brings it home is a big – uh, make that small way.

A CHEESE BANK – SERIOUSLY, A REAL BANK

For cheese farmers, there's a bank in Italy that will literally accept cheese as collateral for loans. Take a look:

BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH SPORTS

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post reported that Museum of Natural History of The University of Louisiana at Monroe must move its collection to make room for an expanded sports track:

”The curators were given 48 hours to find a new place on campus to store the collection — something they weren't able to do. Now they must get another institution to take their several million specimens.

“Their hard deadline is July, when the track renovations are slated to begin. And if the collection isn't moved by then, curators said, it will be destroyed.”

As the Post further reported, the collection

”...includes some 6 million fish collected by ULM ichthyologist Neil Douglas, one of the leading experts on the fish of Louisiana, as well as half a million native plants. It is an important record of biodiversity in northern Louisiana — a region that stands to see significant environmental impacts as a result of climate change.”

What can possibly justify this move by the university.

You can read more at the Washington Post. The university's museum website is here.

THE TRUMP KLEPTOCRACY ROLLS ON

On 6 April 2017, Ivanka Trump was sitting next to the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife at a formal state dinner at Mar-a-Lago. That was the dinner, as you no doubt know, where chocolate cake was served as President Trump told the Xi that the U.S. had just fired a bunch of missiles at Syria.

Or was it Iran? Trump wasn't certain which country had been targeted when he discussed it on a TV news program later. The interviewer had to correct the president.

You probably also know that on the same day, as the AP reported,

”Ivanka Trump's company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world's second-largest economy...

“The scenario underscores,” reported the AP, “how difficult it is for the president's daughter, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House.”

Difficult? Or just deliberately flouting the law, custom, the Constitution and countless conflicts of interest? The Trump family kleptocracy rolls on.

OOHO – WATER YOU CAN EAT AND MUCH MORE

Ooho is the name of an edible substance that can eliminate plastic pollution. The website says The aim of Ooho is to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact. Take a look:

Although being used in some small venues, the inventors are still developing the container:

”Their goal isn’t to add another brand of water to an already crowded market but instead to offer a new packaging technology. They envision a range of products so, for example, there would be one version with a very thin membrane suitable to hand out to runners in a race,” explained The Independent.

“For the retail market, there would be another with a thicker outer layer that you could peel off and discard, making it more durable and hygienic.”

Read more about this hopeful possibility at the website and at The Independent. It might help save the Earth.

JOHN OLIVER ON TOMORROW'S FRENCH ELECTION

Don't go thinking tomorrow's election in France doesn't affect you or the United States or the future of the world because it does.

In fact, the election has shaped up to look almost eerily like the U.S. election last November – the same kind of candidates opposing one another.

On his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver shows us the similarities and what is at stake as only he can. The end is brilliant but can't be appreciated if you fast forward – you need to see the entire lead-in.

DID YOU KNOW PIZZA IS A SPORT?

Neither did I. Take a look at the World Pizza Games. Go ahead – it will make you laugh.

AMAZING DRAWINGS ON DIRTY VEHICLES

Here is what they tell us about this at Bored Panda:

”Where one person sees a dirty car, the other one sees a blank canvas. And if you live in Moscow, your car can also become the ‘target,’ doesn’t matter if you want it or not!

“It’s thanks to the Russian illustrator Nikita Golubev, who brings out the full artistic potential of dirty cars by turning them into amazing pieces of art.”

Here are a couple of examples:

Dirty-car-art-proboynick-nikita-golubev-9-58f45eaae219c__880

Dirty-car-art-proboynick-nikita-golubev-8-58f45ea8c3122__880

You can see more at Bored Panda and even more at the artists' Facebook page.

THIS SQUIRREL LOVES HER ICE CREAM CONE

Ice cream shop owners Scott and Pam Martin have adopted a squirrel named Putter as a mascot who seems to love vanilla ice cream enough to show up nearly every day for her scoop. They even make squirrel-size cones for her.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Books Today, Just Books, No Ageing

Bookstore

A friend said to me in an email that a certain non-fiction book is one of a shelf full that makes you understand why books have mattered for so many thousands of years.

People who are life-long readers instantly understand the truth of that. Which, of course, doesn't mean everything we read is so profound as to evoke such recognition.

But it sent me scurrying through my own shelves to track down a book I had set aside some years ago, The Book Lovers' Anthology, from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

It is a compendium of quotations about books and about reading from more than 250 authors through hundreds of years. One of my many favorites is this:

”The advice I would give to any one who is disposed really to read for the sake of knowledge is, that he should have two or three books in course of reading at the same time. He will read a great deal more in that time and with much greater profit.” (Robert Southey)

True. True. True. Except that too often it takes so long for me to get back to one I've laid down for another I am eager to begin that I must start over. Right now there are – among the ones I can easily locate:

Wild Nights - Benjamin Reiss
City of Dreams - Tyler Anbinder
If Our Bodies Could Talk - James Hamblin
Weirdo Parfait - (friend of TGB) Brenda Henry
The Lonely City - Olivia Laing
The Genius of Judaism - Bernard-Henri Levy

Books3

When I was a little girl, younger than school age, on Sundays my father read the funny papers to me. As he did so, his finger followed the words and I remember still the exact moment and the thrill when I could suddenly read one of the word bubbles without his help.

Since then there has been no stopping me. Here is how Samuel Johnson explains the lure of reading, from the Bodleian anthology:

”It is difficult to enumerate the several motives which procure to books the honour of perusal: spite, vanity, and curiosity, hope and fear, love and hatred, every passion which incites to any other action, serves at one time or another to stimulate a reader.

“...but the most general and prevalent reason of study is the impossibility of finding another amusement equally cheap or constant, equally independent of the hour or the weather.” (Samuel Johnson)

Reading-cat

It has been clear from the beginning of this blog 13 years ago that TGB readers, or at least those who comment, are readers too and I suspect you will enjoy a few more quotations from the Bodleian:

”Much reading is like much eating, wholly useless without digestion.” (Robert South)

”In hours of high mental activity we sometimes do the book too much honour, reading out of it better things than the author wrote, - reading, as we say, between the lines. You have had the like experience in conversation: the wit was in what you heard, not in what the speakers said...

“Our best thought came from others. We heard in their words a deeper sense than the speakers put into them, and could express ourselves in other people's phrases to finer purpose than they knew.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.” (Thomas Macaulay)

Today's headline notwithstanding, I can't end this without one good bookish reference to ageing:

”Alonso of Aragon was wont to say, on commendation of Age, that Age appeared to be the best in four things; Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, old authors to read.” (Francis Bacon)

Books1


It is Such a Relief to be This Old

In more ways than you might think, getting old is a huge relief. Stepping off the up elevator of professional life is one of them.

Just about every day I get an email or two promising to show me how I can increase my income by growing my blog audience on Twitter or Facebook.

Almost as often, emails arrive from website service companies offering “free” articles or infographics that are certain to grow my audience and of course, they all link back to a commercial enterprise. In the real world, this is called advertising, although they never mention that word.

10-tips-for-growing-your-social-media-audience

A variation on that theme are those who offer to write the friendlier-sounding “guest post” for TGB that, they say, will grow the audience while requiring a link back to their website that sells something or another.

Mostly, I hit the “delete” key. If the sender has made the effort to track down my name (most don't), I might hit “reply” and send a polite no-thank-you note.

Not too long ago, an interviewer asked what my future plans are for Time Goes By, how it will change and how I will – all together now, that same phrase: grow my audience.

In that case, I was was stunned into silence for a few moments and then confessed that I had no idea, that I have never thought of Time Goes By as a business that would require making the effort to find more readers.

Lots of people make a living with their blogs (or podcasts or Facebook pages, etc.) – some modestly, others moreso. But when I began TGB back in 2004, no one was doing that yet and it wasn't the point. It still is not my point.

And, anyway, I'm way too lazy. It would be more work and take more time than producing the blog itself to market, market, market it – because once you start, it never ends.

Spend-0.00-And-Grow-Your-Audience

My goals are different. Somehow, I am still fascinated with the subject of growing old. There is always more to discover, more to learn and think about and, importantly, to reassess previous stands I've taken as the years pass and I come to see things differently.

I like the need to keep up, to do the necessary research and especially I like writing – putting together what I want to say in what is, I hope, readable, interesting form.

And I always look forward to reading comments because somehow, without my planning it or working at it much, many of you, dear readers, are apparently as interested in what this growing old stuff is all about as I am and are willing to share your thoughts and experience.

What I am NOT interested in and am so relieved not to be required to think about it, is how to grow the audience. It is gratifyingly large now without being anywhere near – oh, say Huffington Post size. Actually, it is minuscule compared to HuffPo and that's fine.

There was a time in my life when I had to weigh everything that went into a website I worked on or a television show I produced in relation to ratings which, of course, translated into revenue.

It was important to be able to do that back then, to balance creativity with business. But I never, ever liked the business part – still don't – and it is such a relief to have left that behind. I can't be the only one who is happy to be old enough to give up the pressures of business and to measure success by something other than numbers of dollars.


High Stakes for Elders (and Some Others)

It's hard to keep up with the federal government these days, isn't it. Every day brings news of so much legislation passed and so many executive orders signed that it all blurs together.

But there are serious things going on that can dramatically change how we live and cost us a lot of money too. Here are three recent events of importance to elders you should know about.

TRUMP DEFUNDS PLANNED PARENTHOOD
And he did it in secret last week. We all know how much he likes to show off his signature, but he signed this bill behind closed doors with no cameras present.

Here's what the bill is about:

As an aside, both President Trump and Jake Tapper in that clip get it wrong when they imply that Planned Parenthood is only for younger women. Aside from birth control information, pregnancy-related services and abortion (which is somewhere between three and 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's services), most apply to both men and women of all ages. Here are some examples:

⚫ Breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer screenings
⚫ Testicular cancer, prostrate cancer clinics
⚫ Cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure screenings
⚫ Flu vaccines
⚫ Vasectomies

FYI, Vice President Mike Pence made the tie-breaking vote when this bill passed in Congress and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the legislation “a major pro-life victory.”

According to a Government Accountability Office report [pdf] released in March 2015 that looked at data from 2010 to 2012, 80 percent (of Planned Parenthood clients) had incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Most now have nowhere affordable to go for these medical services.

MICK MULVANEY AND SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
Remember when then-candidate Trump repeated at many rallies that he would protect Social Security without cuts? He may or may not stick with that because he appointed South Carolina Representative Mick Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Mulvaney, who is a fierce advocate of deep spending cuts, was a member of a conservative bloc that pressed for slashing federal spending more deeply than House Republican leaders preferred, and established himself as one of the most outspoken of the anti-Washington movement in Congress.

Here is what he said to host John Dickerson on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation last month:

Let me repeat that for us in print:

“Do you really think," Mulvaney said, "that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.”

Tell that to the 17 percent of Social Security beneficiaries who are disabled workers or their dependents – 10.6 million in 2016.

Apparently, the president shot down any of Mulvaney's proposed changes to Social Security but a couple of weeks later, Mulvaney told CNBC reporter John Harwood in an interview:

”I continue to look forward to talking to the president about ways to fix that program. Because that is one of the fastest growing programs that we have. It's become effectively a long-term unemployment, permanent unemployment program.”

Oh, I see now. Mulvaney believes disabled workers are lazy deadbeats. Social Security could use some fixing and there are years of research with some excellent choices. Mulvaney's is not one of them.

MICK MULVANEY AND MEDICARE/MEDICAID
In that same interview, Harwood asked if it will be possible in a Trump administration, given Trump's vows to protect Social Security and Medicare, for Congress to “go after” Medicare:

”I think the message to the House and Senate is, 'Look, you go do what you think is best,' said Mulvaney. “And I voted for Medicare premium support in the past when it was part of the Ryan budget. My guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that. [emphasis mine]

“Premium support” is Republican code for voucherizing which is the same thing as privatizing. As Trudy Lieberman explained in the Joliet Herald-News last week:

”The amount of 'support' and how well it would keep pace with medical inflation would be buried in the details Congress would hash out.

“Today, the government provides the benefits for hospital and physician care for most Medicare beneficiaries, but that could change with more privatization. There already is a lot of privatization in Medicare...

“In a totally privatized arrangement, there may be no standardized benefits, and seniors would choose from a menu of insurance company options much the way drug plans are sold today.”

All of which - the Planned Parenthood legislation already in place and the Mulvaney Social Security and Medicare plans - means money out of the pockets of the poor, middle class and elders transferred directly into rich people's pockets.

The president has reversed himself on so many campaign promises already that we would be foolish to trust him on Social Security and Medicare. When it is expedient, he will embrace the mainstream Republican philosophy: more for me, less for you.

Meanwhile, your senators and representatives are in their home states for the rest of this week. It would be good to give their local offices a call and let them know how you feel about Director Mulvaney's plans.


ELDER MUSIC: 1945 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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From my point of view 1945 is the most important year in the history of the universe because it's when I popped out and greeted the world. A few of you will agree with me, but I suspect most of you won't and that's okay. Well, let's see what people were listening to at the time.

Some of them were listening to CECIL GANT.

Cecil Gant

Cecil was in the army during the war and for some of the latter time he performed at war bonds rallies. It was around this time that he recorded the song I Wonder, which became quite a hit for him. Here it is, with him playing the piano as well.

♫ Cecil Gant - I Wonder


The backing for FRANK SINATRA is a bit overblown for my taste but I suppose that was par for the course back then.

Frank Sinatra

Perhaps not though, as we'll see with Bing down a bit. Anyway, this is one of Frank's famous songs, Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week).

♫ Frank Sinatra - Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)


LUCKY MILLINDER was an odd sort of a band leader – he couldn't read or write music, he didn't play an instrument or sing. However, he was a great showman and he could pick talent and many influential musicians began their careers thanks to him.

Lucky Millinder

One who started with him is WYNONIE HARRIS.

Wynonie Harris

It was with Lucky's band that Wynonie first performed the song Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well at the Apollo Theatre. However, due to the shortage of shellac, they didn't record the song until 1945. Here it is.

♫ Lucky Millinder (Wynonie Harris vocal) - Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well


Until I researched this year, I didn't know that BING CROSBY had recorded with LES PAUL. Just goes to show that I learn from these columns as well.

Bing Crosby & Les Paul

This was Les and His Trio, and it was a nice simple arrangement – just two guitars and bass backing Bing. Couldn’t do much better than that. The song is It's Been a Long, Long Time. Naturally, we have the wonderful guitar lead by Les.

♫ Bing Crosby - It's Been A Long Long Time


Although it was considerably later than 1945 (because I wouldn't remember), my sister used to sing this next song to me. She seemed to like these silly songs when she was a kid. Well, I think we all did. In this case the performer is SAMMY KAYE, not my sister.

Sammy Kaye

I believe that's NANCY NORMAN singing along with Billy Williams and the Kaye Choir (which I assume is Sammy's own).

Nancy Norman

If you thought songs in the fifties had silly lyrics (well, that's what the adults told us at the time), clap your ears around this one. Chickery Chick.

♫ Sammy Kaye - Chickery Chick


TONY PASTOR wasn't the biggest name in the Big Band era, at least not to me.

Tony Pastor

He started as a singer and saxophone player in various bands until one evening Artie Shaw walked away from his gig and Tony was roped in to cover for him. This lead to regular gigs in New York that included radio broadcasts.

What he and his orchestra perform is Bell Bottom Trousers with "vocal refrain" by Ruth McCullough and Tony himself.

♫ Tony Pastor (Ruth McCullough & Tony vocal) - Bell Bottom Trousers


DINAH SHORE was around for a long time in the entertaining business.

Dinah Shore

Way back, she auditioned for spots in Benny Goodman's band as well as Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. No one wanted her so she went out on her own and became a huge success as a solo singer; one of the first to do this.

Her personal life was really interesting but I won't go into that; it's freely available to anyone who's interested. This year her song is My Guy's Come Back.

♫ Dinah Shore - My Guy's Come Back


Around this time, jump blues was just starting to emerge from big band music. This was essentially music performed by a small group that led eventually to rock & roll. There were still elements of the big bands and jazz at this time. One of the best of the genre was LOUIS JORDAN.

Louis Jordan

Louis is a semi-regular inclusion in these columns and his song today (or this year, if you will) is Mop Mop.

♫ Louis Jordan - Mop Mop


Because of my age, the first time I heard the song Twilight Time was the great version by The Platters. They weren't the first to record it, however. It was originally an instrumental by THE THREE SUNS.

Three Suns

Buck Ram was a songwriter and manager of The Platters and he wrote the words for it. We're not interested in that today. The Suns were brothers Al and Morty Nevins and their cousin Artie Dunn. They recorded the tune again a couple of years later, but this is the way they first put it down.

♫ Three Suns - Twilight Time


Like Dinah, PEGGY LEE also had a long career in show biz.

Peggy Lee

Her career began when Benny Goodman's wife caught her act and got Benny to come along and listen. He hired her on the spot.

Besides being a fine jazz and pop singer, she also wrote many songs (and added verses to existing ones), as well as acting and supplying voiceovers for films. The song Waitin' for the Train to Come In isn't one she wrote; it's by Jule Styne And Sammy Cahn.

♫ Peggy Lee - Waiting For The Train To Come In



INTERESTING STUFF – 15 April 2017

TRIBUTE TO DAVE LETTERMAN'S MOM

Surely you remember how Dave Letterman made his mom a star during the 30-year run of his Late Show. Dorothy Mengering died Tuesday at the age of 95. Here is a montage of some of her appearances on her son's show.

Read more at the Tampa Bay Times.

WI-FI SEX TOY YOUR NEIGHBOR CAN OPERATE

This was the best “oops laugh” I had all week. You've heard of IoT, the Internet of Things, right? Your refrigerator will order milk for you, start the toaster or turn on the lights and so on.

Well, someone may have gone a mite too far with this idea – a Wi-Fi sex toy AND it can be hacked:

”This week, U.K. cybersecurity services provider Pen Test Partners shed light on a particularly prurient internet of things vulnerability in the Svakom Siime Eye, a $250 sex toy equipped with an internet-connected camera that lets users stream a dildo’s eye view of masturbation via the internet to another person’s smartphone.

“Because of the way the Siime Eye’s software was designed, anyone within Wi-Fi range could potentially hack his or her way into the system and watch footage right along with the person the feed was intended for.”

And here is the kicker that sent me into gales of laughter:

”With a little extra work, a hacker could also take control of the firmware and even broadcast the feed to the web for anyone to see.”

Read even more about this at Salon. Tee hee.

OLIVER ON GERRYMANDERING AND DEMOCRACY

As you undoubtedly know by now, the Republicans have so deeply gerrymandered the voting districts of the United States in the past decade that in many places it is, without some gigantic change of political leaning of millions of voters, impossible for Democrats to increase their numbers on the Senate, the House and in state houses.

The wonderful John Oliver looked into that on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight. As with almost all his video essays, this one, too, is not to be missed.

BOSTON TYPEWRITER ORCHESTRA UPDATE

Remember last week when I showed you a video about the Boston Typewriter Orchestra? Friend and well-known videographer, Steve Garfield (who is also the son of our own Millie Garfield), emailed to let me know that he had interviewed these guys way back in 2008.

So here's Steve's video with the orchestra members and some additional information we didn't get the last week's item.

You can find out about all kinds of other video work Steve does at his website.

WHEN I DIDN'T CLICK THE LINK

Sometimes when people demean elders with their words, they are just ignorant; there is a good chance they can be educated.

Then there are organizations whose actions are so deviant from their stated purpose, are beyond the pale. Take this headline from, of all places, an AARP newsletter.

“The inspiring women of Allure's ageless beauties video series prove that growing up doesn't have to mean growing old.” [emphasis is mine]

I immediately hit the delete button. Let us say this all together now: There is nothing wrong with being old.

DAVID FARENTHOLD WINS PULITZER PRIZE

Perhaps, last year, you followed the work of Washington Post reporter David Farenthold who, over many weeks spoke with more than 300 charities that then-candidate Donald Trump said he had contributed money to.

Farenthold couldn't find any that Trump had actually given money to while also discovering illegal use of his foundation funds for personal purchases.

That kind of investigation, telephone call after call after call, is deeply tedious and deeply important to keeping public people honest. This week, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his effort and here's a video of the celebration with his colleagues at the paper.

Congratulations on a well-deserved award. You can read more at the Washington Post.

CONGRESS MADE IT OKAY TO KILL HIBERNATING BEARS

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed a bill that had been passed by Congress making it legal to kill bears while they are hibernating and other wild animals too.

Orso-bruno

The law also allows people to kill cubs in their dens and target animals from helicopters. The Humane Society had condemned the law before it had passed the Senate and was sent to the president's desk.

“'What the House did today should shock the conscience of every animal lover in America,' said Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle in a statement. 'If the Senate and president concur, we’ll see wolf families killed in their dens [and] bears chased down by planes.'

“Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who introduced the measure, argued that states’ rights were being infringed upon by the rule.

“'We have to recognize this is not about the little polar bears, the little grizzly bears or wolves on television, this is about the state’s right to manage — not allowing the federal government to do so.'”

Unh-huh. But the animals are just as dead. Find out more at Huffington Post.

THE MAN WHO CREATED MICROSOFT WINDOWS SOLITAIRE

Unless you're an Apple/Mac kind of person, you have undoubtedly played Microsoft's solitaire game that was included with every computer running Windows for many years.

Someone created that video game and it was an intern at Microsoft in 1988, named Wes Cherry. As the Youtube page explains:

"...out of sheer boredom, Cherry created Solitaire. With the approval of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the company decided to include the game as part of its Windows program. And thus commenced countless hours of wasted time. From procrastinators everywhere, thanks, Wes.”

Yeah, Wes – thanks a lot. Here's the story from Wes Cherry himself and wait until you see what he's doing these days, nearly 20 years later.

LITTLE GIRL MISTAKES DISCARDED WATER HEATER FOR A ROBOT

And it's this week's most adorable thing.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Modern-Day Phossy Jaw and Osteoporosis Drugs

Today's post is a good deal lengthier than usual but I believe it's worth it. I hope you think so.

Like many people about my age (76 now), it did not occur to me when I was young to question my physician. If he or she said this pill or that treatment was good for what ailed me, I believed, I followed the instructions.

Life goes on and things change. For many years now, when I am unfamiliar with drugs, treatments and therapies that are recommended, I do the research first. You probably do that too.

Here is a personal story about how important this can be.

THE HISTORY
In the 19th and early 20th century, phosphorus necrosis of the jaw was a deadly condition particularly affecting people who worked in the matchstick industry (often children and young women) as a result of their exposure to yellow (now called white) phosphorus.

It was a horrible disease, eating away teeth and jawbone before, if left untreated, moving on to brain damage, organ failure and death. Not that the treatment was all that helpful. It largely involved removal of the jawbone which made eating difficult and patients then sometimes died of malnutrition.

The popular name for this disease, in England, was phossy jaw and it generally disappeared when, in the early 20th century, phosphorus matches were outlawed in most countries of the world.

Then, a century later, this:

But how can someone younger than me
have osteoporosis, and sit
googling up a substance that might
help it, or give her phossy jaw?

That is from a contemporary poem (2013) titled Match Girl by British poet, Fleur Adcock, indicating, with the reference to osteoporosis, that phossy jaw has returned to plague some people in the 21st century who use a certain prescription drug.

The only reason I know this is that I have lately been “googling up a substance that...might give ME phossy jaw.”

THE DIAGNOSIS AND PRESCRIPTION
A couple of months ago, after a bone scan, my physician noted that the results indicate that I have osteopenia (early osteoporosis) and would benefit from taking a certain bisphosphonate drug.

If you don't know that word, you undoubtedly know some of the brand names of bisphosphonates that are ubiquitously advertised in magazines and on television: Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel and less frequently, Aclasta, Aredia, Binosto, Didronel, Reclast and Zometa among a few others most of which have generic counterparts. They are common treatments for osteoporosis.

Brand name bisphosphonates

The doctor continued. Among a long list of lesser side effects, he said, between one and six percent of patients using these drugs suffer osteonecrosis of the jaw - that is, phossy jaw which is also known in the medical community shorthand as ONJ.

Even though I had not yet learned the nickname “phossy jaw,” the more medically correct designation, osteonecrosis (bone death), was frightening enough when I heard it that even without yet knowing details, I declined the prescription that day, telling the doctor I would do some homework and get back to him.

For something as ghastly as phossy jaw, one to six percent possibility does not strike me as insignificant. And there is the pesky chance, too, of spontaneous femur breakage that can result from bisphosphonate usage that the doctor had not mentioned.

THE RESEARCH
Once again, thank you Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the internet. I cannot imagine how I could have tracked down all the information I wanted without it and it took only a couple of hours to amass enough for a good overview of osteoporosis treatment.

Among the statistics for bisphosphonates is the warning that “invasive dental work” apparently increases the incidence of phossy jaw.

Invasive dental work. You might recall, as I mentioned in February, that for more than two years I have undergone tooth extractions, procedures to grow new bone in my jaw, subsequent dental implants and an over-denture.

There is no question all that qualifies as “invasive” so I emailed my dentist who is also a bone and implant specialist. He wrote back:

”I would like to chat about this with you - very complicated answer...Bottom line - my answer is no way - you grew great bone during our treatments.”

Later, we spoke on the telephone for more than an hour. I got a terrific education in bone growth and phossy jaw, and he reiterated that my new bone growth was "exceptionally successful."

Osteoporosis

He also believes that physicians overprescribe bisphosphonates to women 70 and older (far fewer men are at risk for osteoporosis) and that everyone should be asked if they have had or are expecting to have invasive dental work before deciding on the drug.

Back on the internet, I tracked down some statistics on bisphosphonate (BP) prescriptions (it isn't easy to find). As of 2014, there were 46.2 million women in the United States age 65 and older. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health,

”...an estimated 30 million BPs prescriptions are written every year in the United States alone, and more than 190 million prescriptions are written annually worldwide.

There is no information about how those prescriptions are counted but even if they are off by a few million, somewhere in the vicinity of 65 percent of the affected age group with scripts for bisphosphonates seems wildly excessive to me.

Statistics on the incidence of bisphosphonate-related phossy jaw are even harder to come by. The apparent standard that is widely quoted - 1 in 100,000 for oral bisphosphonate and 1 in 10,000 for intravenous bisphosphonate - is sketchy.

There have been no randomized, controlled trials of long-term use of bisphosphonates (commonly prescribed for a five-year span) so claims for their safety in regard to phossy jaw are indeterminate, whatever drug companies claim.

In a paper about bisphosphonates and the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw, the British Journal of Medical Practitioners published what is the smartest list of recommendations for all medical and dental practitioners I have seen in all my research. Before beginning a bisphosphonate regimen,

”All patients should undergo a routine dental exam to rule out any dental source of infection.

“All medical practitioners also should perform a baseline oral exam.

“Invasive dental or/and oral surgical procedures should be completed before initiating therapy.

“Practice preventive dentistry, involving procedures such as oral prophylaxis, dental restorations, and endodontic therapy, and check dentures for irritational foci.

“Schedule routine follow-up every 3 months to check for any signs of developing ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw).

“The risks associated with oral surgical procedures such as dental implants, extractions, and extensive periodontal surgeries must be discussed with the patient and weighted against the benefits.”

The only recommendation I question is the one about completing invasive dental work before initiating therapy because the researchers tell us in the same breath to schedule dental followups every three months after use of bisphosphonate treatment begins, strongly implying that they believe there can be continued risk of phossy jaw after dental work is finished.

There are breathtakingly long lists of other side effects ranging from sniffles to phossy jaw and broken thighs for all the bisphosphonate drugs. You can find good side effect information for brand name drugs at drugs.com or rxlist.com.

Some pharmaceutical companies that produce brand name bisphosphonates try to play down the possibility of phossy jaw and spontaneous thigh fracture by saying that occurrences are “rare.” But there are no definitive statistics and "rare" depends entirely on a patient's characterization of the word, not the drug company's.

THE DECISION
Bisphosphonates slow bone loss, strengthen bones to a degree that helps prevent further weakening and people who take a bisphosphonate are less likely to break a bone (well, if you don't count those thigh breaks that are associated with the drug).

I understand all that. I also understand that when old people break a bone, they often do not recover well or at all in too many cases, which are good reasons to think hard about this class of drugs for osteopenia and osteoporosis. (They are also used to treat certain cancers and Paget's disease.)

Osteoporosissymptoms

Nevertheless, even though I have been diagnosed with osteopenia, I have declined the drug and it was the recent dental work along with my dentist's strong caution that tipped the scales for me.

According to an article by respected science and medicine reporter, Gina Kolata, in The New York Times last year, I am not alone:

”Reports of the drugs’ causing jawbones to rot and thighbones to snap in two,” she wrote, “have shaken many osteoporosis patients so much that they say they would rather take their chances with the disease.

“Use of the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs fell by 50 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to a recent paper, and doctors say the trend is continuing...

“Lawsuits over the rare side effects resulted in large jury awards and drew widespread attention.”

The decision about use of any risky drug is entirely personal, dependent on diagnosis, other medical factors, a thorough discussion with one's physician and on personal inclination. I can easily imagine, if my bone density were worse than it is now, making the opposite decision.

Many people, undoubtedly millions of them, have been saved from the worst effects of osteoporosis due to bisphosphonate drugs and god knows I am not lobbying against their use. However, what strikes me about these particular drugs is that it is mostly old people who need them and old people usually have a lot more invasive dental work than younger people.

Yet, I had to find out about the possible connection between bisphosphonates and phossy jaw only because that word "necrosis" my doctor uttered, went off in my head like a fire alarm. Bone death is worth paying close attention to.

So. All potential adverse effects should always be clearly made to patients, and we patients should always be ready with questions when a recommendation is something with which we are unfamiliar.

Although my doctor mentioned osteonecrosis, he was dismissive of the one to six percent chance of it occurring - “only,” he said of the gamble. He may believe those numbers are negligible but that is a personal calculation, different for each of us.

I'm not blaming him for not mentioning the dental work connection. Doctors cannot possibly keep up with every contraindication for every drug. But I'm sure happy that word “necrosis” leapt out at me when he was speaking or I might not have “googled a substance that might lead to [modern-day] phossy jaw” and that important discussion with my dentist who has more experience with the results of the drug than most internists would.

[NOTE: I have left off photographs of phossy jaw (osteonecrosis of the jaw, ONJ) in this report because they are really gruesome. If you are interested, here is a link.]


Retired. Hobbies. Being More Than Useful.

A long time ago on this blog, 2006 to be precise, I wrote about the difficulty I'd had in those days with the word “retired.” Here is part of what I wrote:

”I choke on the word 'retired.' On the rare occasions I have used this term to describe myself, I’ve seen the same kind of veil come over the eyes of people who ask what I do as I saw on the faces of young interviewers (before I gave up looking for full-time work)...

“Now, when I use the word, it is amusing (or would be if it weren’t so infuriating) to watch the other person searching for a way to politely extricate him- or herself from our conversation.”

The problem with the word is that to be retired in the United States is to be perceived as irrelevant, uninteresting and quite possibly stupid. Even the late, eminent geriatrician, Robert N. Butler, had personal experience with the word being synonymous to others with “over the hill” which at age 80, he definitely was not.

Retirednotexpired3

Recently I had cause to choke on another word that in most situations should not provoke that response: hobbies. Actually, it took more than the word alone; it was the lead-in sentence to a list of hobbies that left me feeling gloomy about attitudes toward old people.

”Here are 11 healthy hobbies your aging loved one might want to consider.”

First, there is the tone of condescension, as though an old person doesn't already have his/her own interests. Then there is the dismissive word itself, hobbies, which sounds a lot like the idea is to just fill time until the “aging loved one” kicks the bucket.

Here are the 11 items.

  1. Creating Art / Doing Crafts
  2. Volunteering
  3. Swimming
  4. Walking
  5. Playing Games / Cards
  6. Dancing
  7. Gardening
  8. Practicing Yoga
  9. Golfing
  10. Caring for a Pet
  11. Family and Friends

There is nothing wrong with anything on that list except that elders already know about them and each one is much more than a mere pastime. Tens of millions of people, old and young, participate in numbers 3, 4, 8 and 9 for enjoyment and to help keep themselves fit.

Numbers 5 and 6 are among the many ways we have to socialize with others. And I would file 2, 7, 10 and 11 under the category not of hobbies, but of living.

In fact, the only one that could possibly be labeled a hobby is number one. Maybe. In some circumstance. But usually not, I think.

Using the word hobby for any of these is dismissive. But such an attitude is a pattern in regard to elders. Many people, apparently including the writer of this article, think that because you are retired, whatever you do with your time is not valuable or useful.

Really? Tell that to volunteers. To caregivers. To docents. To people who knit, crochet and quilt for the homeless and other charities. And tell that to others who spend their time learning, keeping fit, reading, relaxing, catching up with what they had no time for during their working years - and one more - an important one: "just" being.

Speaking of hobbies, too many people who believe they know a lot about old people and write about them make it their own hobby to exhort old people to do, do, do. God forbid any elder should spend some quiet time with themselves.

LivingForYourself

Which brings me to an important idea about which TGB reader, Rosemary Woodel, emailed.

She included a link to an essay by Parker J. Palmer, one of the contributors to Krista Tippet's On Being website. It is titled Being More Than Being Useful.

”I work hard at what I do, and I bet you do too. So maybe you need the same reminder I do: while my work is important, it is not a measure of my value or worth,” writes Palmer.

“Who we 'be' is far more important than what we do or how well we do it. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings!

“We pay a terrible price if we value our doing over our being. When we have to stop 'doing' — e.g., because of job loss, illness, accident, or the diminishments that can come with age — we lose our sense of worthiness.”

Okay, he's more flip than I would be about his idea but that doesn't make him wrong. He's talking about being centered, accepting of your own self, understanding your intrinsic worth.

The people who who make lists of hobbies for old folks, advise us to walk faster, find new friends and pick something from a list to do have forgotten - or perhaps, because they are usually much younger - have not realized yet that growing old is also an important time to, in addition to everything else, do less - to be.

Growing old is a perfect time to learn or re-learn that we are, each one of us, worthy just by the fact of being here. Being old and retired from the workforce does not diminish that worthiness even if some others think so. We should not allow them to disregard us by assuming we aren't busy enough and need help to figure out how to use our time.


Dining Out With the Opposite Sex While Married

This issue has been creeping into my mind unbidden for the two weeks or so since it happened. I can't seem to shake it.

At first, I didn't believe it was a topic for a blog about ageing. Then I recalled that a whole lot of us who hang out here spent a great deal of time and effort in our youth taking part in marches and other activities to promote equality for women. So we certainly do have a stake in this and maybe today's post will clear my head.

The eye-opening revelation was buried in a short paragraph halfway into a lengthy profile of Second Lady Karen Pence by reporter Ashley Parker in the Washington Post.

”In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”

VP Mike Pence

Before that one small sentence blew up the internet for a day or two, I thought it was fairly medieval but consistent with what I have come to know of Vice President Mike Pence which, that morning, led to a joke-y email exchange with a friend about Pence's apparent inability to trust himself sexually without his wife by his side.

We weren't the only ones to have that thought as the one-liners flying around the Twitterverse showed. But then the subject took a turn toward the serious. Some examples:

PenceTwitter5

PenceTwitter2

PenceTwitter1

PenceTwitter

Maybe I'm slow but it had not occurred to me that there would be a Republican/Democratic divide on the issue. A lot of the Republican pushback carried a hysteria that is hard to fathom, as this one from Katie Pavlich at the conservative website and print magazine, Town Hall:

”This, somehow, has been twisted as 'extreme,' with some on the left comparing his actions to Sharia Law. In actuality Pence is smart and does a service not only to his wife, but to professional women working inside the Beltway. His decision to err on the side of respect has certainly paid off...

“Washington D.C. is often a sleazy, filthy town. The stories you hear about smoky backrooms are true. Go to any D.C. restaurant at happy hour and you'll see scores of married men surrounded by and engaged inappropriately with younger women who are not their wives.

“This city is a place where a small, but vicious and significant population of men and women crave power. They will stop at almost nothing to get it, which includes breaking up marriages.”

Is Ms. Pavlich trying to say that without his wife at his side, Vice President Pence would succumb to the sexual wiles and aggression of a power-hungry woman? Is that what she's telling us?

This whole thing is sexist from so many retrograde angles that it can hardly be untangled. Let us repeat what is really at stake here. This from Olga Khazan at The Atlantic:

”A cheesy bon-mot popular among lobbyists goes, 'in Washington, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.' In other words, if you don’t schmooze, you lose — and so does the agenda you’re pushing. If Pence literally won’t sit at the table with women, where does that leave women’s issues?”

Exactly. And further, while this debate was at its most heated, I heard a woman who described herself as an evangelical Christian tell a cable TV news host that she was taught from childhood that once people got married, they could not have friends of the opposite sex, and that is how it should be.

What a cramped, impoverished view of life that, worse, results in discrimination against half the population. This is not, as the political right would have it, a moral issue. It is a women's issue.

Over the years, I worked, traveled, shared meals and drinks with married male colleagues sometimes in groups and sometimes alone with one. We each brought our areas of expertise to the job we were responsible for and I felt lucky, too, that my life was enriched by knowing these interesting, smart people. I do not recall a single instance of sexual suggestion or discomfort and I had no idea until now that there could be any question about it.

One of the best overall critiques of the Pence family meal policy and its consequences I've found is by Jessica Valenti at The Guardian.


ELDER MUSIC: Life on the Road

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

There are a lot of good (and many not so good) songs about musicians' life on the road. Some say that this is sheer self indulgence but I disagree because I guess the songwriters write about what they know, which is what all writers are told to do.

After I collected the songs I realized that the baby boomers will love these songs. I know I do, but I'm technically not one of them (just a bit too old).

I'll start with the man who knows all about life on the road. WILLIE NELSON has written several songs on this topic.

Willie Nelson

You probably know the most famous of these but I'm not using that one. Instead, here's an earlier one, written when Willie wasn't so well known as a performer, but my goodness he was already a great songwriter.

This is Me and Paul, the Paul mentioned is Paul English, Willie's long-time drummer (and occasional bodyguard).

♫ Willie Nelson - Me And Paul


I don't know if CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL had problems on the road, but they certainly had possibly the best song about such things.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

I know they had serious problems with their record company as they were screwed out of royalties for many years. That sort of thing was not uncommon in the early days of rock & roll, but a few nasty people continued it for far too long. Anyway, here is Lodi.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lodi


It's one thing to be on the road when you're the headliner. However, things aren't so good when you're just the opening act. The DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS tell us all about it.

Drive-By Truckers

They regale us with tales of sleazy bars and crowds who aren't interested in the music and such like. I'm pretty sure everyone today experienced that sort of thing when they were starting out. Today, the Truckers are The Opening Act.

♫ Drive-By Truckers - The Opening Act


I know of four excellent songs (all different) called On the Road Again. The best of those is by Tom Rush. Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan both have good ones but the one today, just for a bit of change of pace, is by CANNED HEAT.

Canned Heat

My goodness, we're into sixties' hippie mode with this one. Although not their first single, it was the first to make a dent in the charts, paving the way for their better known Going Up The Country. Here we are, On the Road Again.

♫ Canned Heat - On The Road Again


Several of the songs today are about performers who aren't very successful. GORDON LIGHTFOOT takes that another step further in his song.

Gordon Lightfoot

His performer decides to chuck it all in and give up the game. Perhaps because he's at Boulder Dam and it's 10 Degrees & Getting Colder. That'd dampen anyone's enthusiasm.

♫ Gordon Lightfoot - 10 Degrees & Getting Colder


JACKSON BROWNE really went all out to provide us with the full on the road experience.

Jackson Browne & David Lindley

His album "Running on Empty" was all about that. Several of the songs were recorded on his tour bus between gigs and others were recorded live at various concerts, including this one.

It's really two songs: The Load Out and Stay. Featured is the fine guitar of DAVID LINDLEY as well as his stratospheric falsetto on Stay.

♫ Jackson Browne - The Load Out~Stay


Now we have Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite steering wheel thumper. People who know about such things could probably guess that's it's by the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND.

Allman Brothers

They had a few songs that would fit that category but the champion in the A.M.'s estimation is Ramblin' Man, written and sung by their guitarist Dickey Betts.

♫ Allman Brothers - Ramblin' Man


On the evidence of his song, Paul Simon got jaded rather early in his career. This is one of the early hits for SIMON AND GARFUNKEL.

Simon & Garfield

Rather than touring, it seems that they would prefer to be Homeward Bound.

Simon & Garfield - Homeward Bound


If any band would know about life on the road it's the GRATEFUL DEAD.

Grateful Dead

Their song is not just about the normal life on the road but the perils of that existence as well. As with Willie's song that opened these proceedings, you have to be careful what you leave in your clothes (and elsewhere). They describe all that in Truckin'.

♫ Grateful Dead - Truckin'


JERRY JEFF WALKER sums up all that's gone before with his song, and he also supplies the title for the column.

Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff knows what he's talking about as he's been doing this for, well, forever. Okay, not literally, but he's been on the road since the sixties (or maybe earlier). He tells us about Life on the Road.

♫ Jerry Jeff Walker - Life on the Road



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 April 2017

FIRST A PERSONAL NOTE: Thank you all for your many birthday greetings yesterday. They came through all kinds of sources - Facebook, LinkedIn, the blog and email - well, until the power went out at about 9:30AM and didn't return for nearly 10 hours. So I still have more to read this morning. You are the best and let me give one more shout out to the TGB music guru Peter Tibbles for his delightful column just for my birthday. I am now officially 76 years old.

* * *

WILLIE NELSON IN 1965

In 1965, I was 24 years old; Willie Nelson was 32 and as far as I can recall, I hadn't heard of him yet.

Back then, he was a long way from what we've come to know and love - at least in terms of presentation. Take a look at his medley at the Grand Ole Opry that year.

Anyone who heard him then would have no trouble knowing he'd be around for a long, long time. Then and now, I always end up smiling when I'm listening to Willie.

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR CONGRESS PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK

We haven't discussed it for awhile but I assume you are regularly contacting your senators and representative in Congress to let them know your opinions and thoughts.

Now there is an additional way to do that – Facebook. Here are the basics:

Visit facebook.com/townhall by looking under the "Explore" section of your News Feed on a desktop, or by looking in the menu of your Facebook app on your phone.

“After submitting your street address (will be used only for civic engagement – not advertising – purposes), you will get a list of your local, state and national representatives...”

“From there, Facebook will let you contact your elected representatives directly with a single click, by calling the first number listed on the official's Facebook page (if you're on the social network's mobile app) or by sending an email or a Facebook message.”

There are more instructions and explanation as the Washington Post.

JOHN OLIVER ON MARIJUANA LAWS

A whole lot of U.S. states have legalized or decriminalized the use of marijuana in various forms. But there is that pesky federal law against any use of it.

President Barack Obama and his Justice Department chose to ignore that law as more cannabis dispensaries opened across the United States. Now, our new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has indicated that the federal law will be enforced. Given the billion dollar industry cannabis has become, that should be interesting to watch happen.

Last Sunday, on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took on that topic in his usual brilliant and funny way.

UNDERGROUND DESTINATIONS

I couldn't tell you why but I have a fondness for the amazing underground living and working spaces people have created. Here is one in Fresno, California.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a Sicilian immigrant named Baldassare Forestier didn't like the heat in Fresno so, explains Mental Floss:

”...he began digging himself underground caverns in which to stay cool, and kept digging for the next 40 years. Along the way, Forestiere developed methods to deliver enough sunshine so that he could grow fruit trees and grapevines in his underground home.

“The result of his digging is now Forestiere Underground Gardens, where some of his original trees are still thriving 100 years later.”

1forestiere_underground_gardens_at_5021_west_shaw_avenue_fresno_california_lccn2013634995

The Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland produced salt from the 13th century up until 2007. Now it is a national historical monument.

“The natural resource has figured prominently in Poland's history over the centuries, and miners created an underground world that includes chapels and artworks carved into the walls, with more added by modern artists.”

800wieliczka_kopalnia_soli_xiii

You can find out more about the Wieliczka Salt Mines here. More about the Forestiere Underground Gardens here. And you can see a dozen or so more underground destinations at Mental Floss.

REMARKABLE OWL RESCUE

A Great Horned Owl was stuck sitting on a dead tree trunk in the middle of what looks like a swamp. He/she had been there all night and into the day because a wing was caught in fishing line.

Enter a perfectly named guy, Craig Loving, who took matters into his hands when no wildlife rescue professionals were available. This is – well, loving.

HE PLAYS THE TENOR SMITH CORONA

For some people of a certain age – like me – it is fun, in our computer age, to recall the “click,” “clack” and “ding” of the mechanical typewriters on which we learned to type. Now, The Boston Typewriter Orchestra is, as the YouTube page says, “making these old machines “sing” again:

”Since 2004, this six-man ensemble has been playing a range of covers and original songs on both desktop and portable machines from years past. And if you thought all typewriters emitted the same sounds, think again. This orchestra's sonorous symphonies have captivated crowds all over New England.”

Perhaps you noticed at about six seconds from this top of the video a certain style of typewriter under the opening credit, “The Typewriter Orchestra.”

I love that old typewriter style – those particular keys - so much that about three months ago, I splurged on a treat for myself, this computer keyboard:

Keyboard

It's called a Qwerkywriter. It is a fully functional Bluetooth keyboard that does everything a standard plastic computer keyboard does but it uses old fashioned keys, is made of sturdy metal like the old-timey typewriter I learned on – with those same keys - and is gorgeously designed. Here's a little video:

I use mine mostly with my desktop computer but it also works well with a tablet that you can slip into the slot where we once rolled paper into the machine. You can find out more about it at the Qwerkywriter website and read a review at Engadget.

LA TIMES EDITORIAL SERIES ON TRUMP DISHONESTY

Last Sunday, The Los Angeles Times began a daily series written by the editorial board that pulls not a single punch in regard to President Donald Trump in his first 70-something days in office. From the first installment:

”What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation.”

Whether you are fan or foe of the 45th president, this is a must-read series. It begins here.

MELTING CANDY AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

All the YouTube page tells us is that Erwin Trummer made this short compilation video of melting candies set to classic music. It's quite beautiful.

COCKATOO LOVES HIM SOME ELVIS

Thank my friend Jim Stone for digging out this two-year-old video for us. I promise you will laugh out loud.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Happy Birthday, Ronni

Cake20

This is Peter, the Sunday person. I've been selected as the DJ for the party today, which was probably a mistake.I think I was chosen as I'm really cheap, actually I'm free.

Everyone knows you get what you pay for and I've checked my records, a bunch of old 45s and maybe a tattered album or two in boxes from down behind the sofa, and that's what it'll be today.

Some might say that I'm only doing this so I don't have to go out and buy a card (some could be right), then think of something to write in it. Then try to find a stamp or try to find a post office (or both).

Then wait for about six months for it to arrive, thus ensuring a quizzical look when it pops up in the letter box some time around September. So, let's get this pretend birthday card under way.

Delving deep into that box of 45s, quite at random, I came up with a birthday song. What are the odds? Okay, I could bore you with that as I used to be a mathematician but I'll spare the details.

Let's just say it was that hugely successful artist BROOKS ARTHUR.

Brooks Arthur

Okay, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration. I've never heard of him and I don't know why he's in my box but he does sing The Birthday Card, rather appropriate giving all my ramblings above.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, would probably say this is a country music song as it has talkie bits in it. Who knows?

♫ Brooks Arthur - The Birthday Card


Continuing the way we started, next up on the old turntable is DALE & GRACE.

Dale & Grace

It sounds as if Grace might have gate-crashed Dale's party, probably after the cad dumped her. Although, listening to the words, it could have been the other way round. Who knows? Anyway, Happy Happy Birthday Baby.

♫ Dale & Grace - Happy Happy Birthday Baby


Gee, it's been a whole year for DIANE RENAY and she's still not over him.

Diane Renay

He dropped her on her birthday. Dear oh dear. I hope you're not as downcast as Diane seems to be. Happy Birthday, Broken Heart.

♫ Diane Renay - Happy Birthday Broken Heart


Well, the COOKIES seem to know what they want as a present.

Cookies

I hope someone can oblige them. I Want A Boy For My Birthday is what they are telling everyone who might want to give them a present. I hope they get their wish – Diane's ex seems to be free, and so does Dale.

♫ The Cookies - I Want A Boy For My Birthday


JOHNNIE RAY asks When's Your Birthday Baby?

Johnnie Ray

Well duh, of course we know when it is. It's just that Johnnie seems to be a bit in the dark about it all.

♫ Johnnie Ray - When's Your Birthday Baby


Well, that's got the rubbish out of the way (except for Johnnie Ray, of course), now for some decent stuff, starting with DON MCLEAN.

Don McLean

Don's song wasn't one I knew until I raided the box of records behind the sofa. He called it Birthday Song.

♫ Don McLean - Birthday Song


I hope you don't have the birthday blues today, but B.B. KING seems to.

BB King

That's okay, when B.B. has the blues he makes the rest of us happy. Let's get up and start dancing around to Happy Birthday Blues.

♫ B.B. King - Happy Birthday Blues


JERRY LEE LEWIS seems to be channelling the spirit of Chuck Berry, in particular his song, My Ding a Ling.

Jerry Lee Lewis

It's not surprising, they often appeared together in the early days, each vying for the coveted final spot. Today, Jerry Lee urges us to Keep Your Hands Off It (Birthday Cake).

♫ Jerry Lee Lewis - Keep Your Hands Off It (Birthday Cake)


I'll end with a bit of couth from GEORG HANDEL.

Handel

Old Georg has a birthday ditty called Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74, and the two performers out in front of everyone else are WYNTON MARSALIS and KATHLEEN BATTLE.

Wynton Marsalis & Kathleen Battle

♫ Handel - Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne HWV 74


Anyway, happy birthday, Ronni.

We'll raise our glasses to you (the ones with Champagne in them, not the ones I look through).

Champs


A Few Things I've Learned About Growing Old

It has been more than 20 years since I began reading, writing and thinking about old age nearly every day. Some things have changed: there is a whole lot more to read nowadays than in the mid-1990s, and there is some improvement in cultural attitudes toward elders. But not nearly enough.

Some things have stayed the same: too many of the boring old stereotypes remain in books, movies, TV and online, in journalism, schools, even in science and medicine and certainly in the workplace.

Over these 20-odd years where I've spent so much time in the world of what it's like to grow old, it's been a lot like “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Here then are a few – only a few - of the random conclusions I've reached about old age in which I have some confidence. (Well, some confidence until new information requires revision.)

⚫ Stereotypes are usually mean and often unfair but they are not always without merit. We do not suddenly become sweet, little old ladies or get-off-my-lawn, curmudgeonly, old men on a certain birthday. If we do exhibit these characteristics, we were likely that way all our lives.

⚫ Cultural perceptions of old age have not changed much in the nearly 50 years since Simone de Beauvoir described them in her 1970 book Coming of Age:

”...we have always regarded [old age] as something alien, a foreign species.”

⚫ Contrary to a minor trend among some writers and self-appointed gurus on the subject, old age is not more special than any other time of life. But it is equally significant – it's just that our culture doesn't see it that way. Yet.

RSG-Aging_in_America

⚫ The old are granted less cultural power even than children.

⚫ Movies about old people still fall mostly into two categories: (1) old folks making fun of themselves while laughing hysterically and (2) old people dying in extremis. You will find more varied and honest portrayals of elders occur in supporting roles.

⚫ No matter how much sentimental types try to tell us otherwise, wisdom is not an automatic attribute of old age.

⚫ No two people age in the same way and they grow old at entirely different rates. Elderhood is more diverse than any other stage of life.

Thebestage

The truest thing I know about growing old is that it never stops being fascinating and there is always something new to know:

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

- Henry Miller


Crabby Old Lady and the Surprising Aggravations of Age

One of younger adult's favorite rebukes of elders is that we talk about our health, or lack thereof, too much. This is not always an unfair stereotype but Crabby Old Lady has had a revelation about it:

No one told us that in old age we would be condemned to constant noise in our ears, a new mole or other kind of skin eruption just about every week and that our ability to sleep through the night would go all to hell.

Eyedoctor

Most of these changes are merely annoying and don't rise to the level of medical intervention or even discussion in the short period of time most people are allowed with their physicians these days.

Recently, a 78-year-old friend told Crabby about this conversation with his doctor who had just finished examining a tender spot at the base of one of his thumbs:

DOCTOR: Arthritis.

FRIEND: Anything we should do?

DOCTOR: (Shrugging) Pain meds. [Pause] If it spreads to other joints, I can refer you to a rheumatologist. [Another pause] Some conditions arrive with age..."

Yes, some things in old age don't warrant much attention - at least, not professional attention.

TGB reader Harold, who blogs at The Way I See It, acknowledged this in a comment when some irritations of old-age were discussed here more than a year ago:

”When I do go in for my annual check ups someone always asks if I have any complaints, and I don't know what to say. Since I've never been this old before I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, but maybe it's supposed to feel like this.”

Exactly. Through most of Crabby's life, the ailments of old age didn't come up much in conversation and when they did, if she was as dismissive of her elders' health conversation (a not unreasonable, if shameful, assumption) as today's children and grandchildren are of current elders', why would she know what old age feels like, what is normal and what is not?

Bonesarteries2

Recently, Crabby Old Lady had a mild disagreement with her doctor. What he called a cough that might need treatment Crabby calls throat-clearing that comes and goes throughout the year.

Some time ago Crabby was relieved to find an explanation online: glands that secrete lubricating mucous around vocal chords decrease with age. Drinking water helps reduce the throat clearing so Crabby has filed this one with her growing list of (mostly) ignorable ailments.

There is hardly any end to these petty annoyances: general aches and pains with no explanation, constipation, sore muscles, stiff joints, insomnia, excess gassiness, spontaneous nose bleeds, hair loss where we want to keep it, new hair where we don't want it, fading vision, fading hearing, weight gain, dry skin, dropping things, minor forgetfulness and...

Recently, another of Crabby's complaints was confirmed:

Netflix sent a message announcing that The Manchurian Candidate had been added to the service's movie list for April. Crabby assumed it was the remake starring Denzel Washington and she was not wrong about that. But she was sure surprised to see that it had been released in 2004.

If you had asked Crabby, she would have said it had been in theaters a couple of years ago, not THIRTEEN years ago.

This is a change that hardly anyone places in the aggravation column (but Crabby does) – that time slips by at such an accelerating rate of speed now, everything from a decade or two ago feels like yesterday. Crabby no longer trusts any time estimate she makes that is older than a month or so and even then, she can be off by a year or two sometimes.

It's no wonder old people talk about their health a lot: it's because no one warned them about these surprise, minor but irritating manifestations of age. No one said that if you live long enough, here is how your life will change.

Crabby would like to have had some advance notice. But would she have paid attention? Would she even have remembered the notice when her time arrived? Probably not.

Now, however, Crabby Old Lady gives herself permission to ignore all the mean jokes about the afflictions of age and talk about them anytime she wants – at least among her peers.

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